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Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer                 77





                     Who Lit up the “Lit” of the

                      Golden Age of Drummer?
                                by Larry Townsend

             When Drummer was founded in 1975, publisher John Embry was nearing
             fifty; editor in chief Jeanne Barney was thirtysomething; Jack Fritscher
             was thirty-six; and I was forty-five. My personal eyewitness of Drummer’s
             invention began when I met John Embry in 1972 when I was president of
             Homophile Effort for Legal Protection (H.E.L.P.), Inc. in Los Angeles.
             John had just returned from Hawaii where he had lived for several years
             selling advertising. He immediately became so interested in H.E.L.P. that
             I gladly handed over to him the production of our newsletter. A couple
             years later when he succeeded me as president of the organization, he tried
             to change our H.E.L.P. Newsletter into a less political and more leather-
             social newspaper that he called H.E.L.P. Drummer.
                Its tabloid format looked like Dick Saunders’ 1960s Frontier Bulletin
             Gazette, like Dick Michaels’ 1970s The Advocate, and like the Bay Area
             Reporter in San Francisco. John’s hybrid ran for several issues, but it never
             really worked because John wanted a real leather magazine, and this was
             not always politically compatible with our group’s organizational pur-
             poses. At that time, when gay liberation was still fighting in the trenches
             against forces like the LAPD, H.E.L.P. was basically involved in protect-
             ing gay men from entrapment, and with paying bail after arrests. H.E.L.P.
             had the largest membership of any secular gay group in Los Angeles. Only
             Ray Broshears’ Metropolitan Community Church had more members.
                John stepped down from the H.E.L.P. leadership and from editing
             H.E.L.P.Drummer so he could start up the slick magazine format dedi-
             cated to the kind of leather content that up to then had only been done in
             onesies and twosies — and never monthly — by publishers like Bob Mizer
             with Physique Pictorial at AMG in LA, and Chuck Renslow with Raw
             at Kris Studio in Chicago. (In 1972, there was also a one-time leather
             photography magazine produced out of San Francisco called Whipcrack
             that Jack Fritscher had produced.) John asked several people including
             myself, Jeanne Barney, Fred Halsted, and Robert Opel to come in with
             him. (Jeanne wrote for the original The Advocate penning her column
             “Smoke from Jeanne’s Lamp.”) I declined because I am mainly known as
             a novelist and I did not want to involve myself with a monthly publication


           ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 05-05-2017
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